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Phuket tourists warned about illegal slow loris touts

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PHUKET: A seven-day educational campaign against profiteering from slow lorises and other wildlife is now underway on the streets of Patong.

Last night about 30 government officers handed out English-language brochures on the illegal use of wildlife in one of the most tourist-dense areas of Phuket, between Loma Park and Soi Bangla in Patong (map here).

The officers were from the Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development and Extension Centre, Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division and other relevant departments.

Patong’s popular walking street, Soi Bangla, has over the last year seen frequent raids on touts offering tourists slow lorises for photo opportunities. Despite the crackdowns and the threats of more (story here) Phuket Gazette readers frequently write in claiming to have seen touts toting the small protected creatures through the bustling nightlife.

Slow lorises are listed in Appendix II (animals strictly measured and monitored to ensure their numbers do not decline) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). They are also protected by the Thailand Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act BE 2535.

“There have been a lot of tourists complaining about touts offering different types of wildlife, especially slow lorises, for photo ops. They say that the situation sometimes causes problems and that the animals look like they are suffering,” said Awat Nitikul, chief of the Environmental Conservation Unit based at Phuket’s Khao Phra Thaew wildlife sanctuary in Thalang.

“From the beginning of 2012 to the present, 17 slow lorises have been rescued in Patong and taken to the Phang Nga Wildlife Nursery Station to be treated and protected,” Chief Awat added.

The possession of a protected species without a permit carries a penalty of up to 40,000 baht or up to four years imprisonment, or both, Chief Awat explained after a slow loris raid in October last year (story here).

The campaign in Patong will continue until March 14.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

 

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